Work or play?

With video games gaining popularity as effective teaching tools, computer giant IBM has now devised a free game called Innov8 meant for budding businessmen

A student controls her virtual
avatar in the new Innov8 game

Computing giant IBM recently announced Innov8 v.2 – a “serious game” that helps students and professionals hone their business and technology skills in a compelling, familiar video game format.

Serious games are at the cusp of widespread adoption within all sectors of business and government, from military flight simulators to corporate training. According to leading video game marketing consultancy The Apply Group, by 2012, between 100 and 135 of the Global Fortune 500 will have adopted gaming for learning.

Innov8 v.2, IBM says, will be available at no cost to businesses and academic institutions for simulations and training.

The game features puzzles and tasks that challenge players to tackle real-world challenges; complete with a global collaboration feature for players to work with virtual teammates in order to progress to the next level of the game.

“Business simulations allow companies to optimise costs, mitigate risks and remain agile in a rapidly changing environment,” said Sandy Carter, IBM vice president of SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) and BPM (Business Process Management). “The features in this game provide a powerful tool for businesses to simulate challenges and explore the range of solutions…”

For example, Innov8 has incorporated scenarios that reflect a new level of intelligence required for future, high-value job opportunities:

•   ‘Green’ Supply Chain: Players evaluate a traditional supply chain model and are tasked with reducing a fictional company’s carbon footprint.

•   Efficient Traffic Flow: Players evaluate existing traffic patterns and re-route traffic based on sensors that alert the player to disruptions such as accidents and roadway congestion.

•   Call Centre Customer Service: Using a call centre environment, players can develop more efficient ways in which to respond to customers.

Learning Through Visualisation

“Most MBA programmess today are already heavily based on projects that reflect how individuals and teams need to interact in the real world,” Carter said. “Innov8 takes that a step further by actually allowing students to step into a dynamic business environment.”

At present, more than 100 universities – from Duquesne University and the University of Southern California in the USA, to Manchester Business School in the UK – have teamed with IBM to integrate Innov8 into their curricula.

“Until now, some of the most important skills such as leadership, project management, innovation and entrepreneurship could only be taught using standard case studies and inspirational quotes,” said Clark Aldrich, author of The Complete Guide to Simulations and Serious Games…

“IBM’s game is one way that universities can help students to learn this by doing it through simulations, in conjunction with traditional teaching methods; thus building skills and retaining knowledge,” he said.

Innov8 v.2 will be available in May 2009. For details, visit

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